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A Fool Proof System For Robbing a Casino
"Absolutely not!" The district attorney's face was quite firm.
Jonathan Green kept his own face stern. He was absolutely serious. "I will argue it in court and I will have experts testify. Better to settle this now, don't you think?"
"Your client was complicit in robbing a casino! He was fully aware of everything he did."
Jonathan remained silent. He knew the D.A. would be more upset by the silence. It would force him to think and consider the repercussions--the argument was completely defensible. After a moment, the D.A. acquiesced slightly and sat back resignedly in his leather chair. "Not guilty by reason of Gale's Law? It's never been argued before."
"It's never been defensible before."
The district attorney lit up a cancer-less cigarette. Blowing a cloud of smoke that was mercifully swallowed by the Oxygen Enhancers that protected visitors from the wafting billows, the D.A. silently gave his permission for Jonathan Green to dissemble his arguments. Nonetheless, Jonathan waited for the tacit approval. "Enlighten me!" finally came the words from the D.A.'s own mouth.
The stacatto noise pollution flooding the house from the front doorbell rushed Mike Ford from his sleep to answer the annoying summons. Surreptitiously peeking out the window, he saw his friend, Jay Red anxiously seeking entrance holding a large black attache case. It was more like him to carry something bohemian than the official looking case and certainly unlike Jay to ring for entry so incessantly at seven in the morning.
Nonetheless, he didn't feel like answering. He was tired after having spent the last week recovering from the venus flu that was striking predatorially citizens without proper vaccinations--there hadn't been enough to go around. He shooed his friend to return later and started back for his bed.
The front door swung open suddenly, apparently unlocked and Jay rushed in beaming, grabbing Mike in a strong bear hug and declaring, "WE DID IT! EVERYTHING YOU SAID WAS RIGHT!"
Mike was still escaping his groggy mist and couldn't explain the nonsense. "Shit, I can't believe I left my door open. I'm usually more careful than that."
"Don't fret it! Simple mistake." Jay stepped into the kitchen and demanded the open-mouthed Mike close the door and join him.
"You don't look so excited!"
Mike still was open-mouthed. "What are you talking about? Excited about what?"
"Our coup! We just robbed a casino, didn't we?"
Any cobwebs of exhaustion quickly dissipated. "We did what?"
Jay stood a moment unsure what to say. Then, "You don't know? Of course not! I haven't explained how we are going to do it yet. I'll make it short. We robbed a casino."
Mike embraced Jay's all-knowing glare with a moment of silence. "I'm going back to bed."
As he turned, Jay hopped up. "Wait! I mean, I was incredulous too, when you first approached me with the idea..."
"No, I did not approach you with any notions of robbing a casino. Any idiot knows it cannot be done. A complete waste of even contemplating it."
"Unless," Jay metaphorically dug in the knife, "you already know it's been successful."
Mike turned slowly back around. Jay smiled...and opened the black attache case. From his angle, Mike Ford could already see some of the gorgeous black, purple and orange mosaic. Approaching for a better view, the rows and rows of casino chips smiled knowingly up at him, each chip a living cell forming a beast of vicious personification--the plastic chips knew their powers of attraction.
Removing a stack, Mike fingered the chips, massaging the plastic circlets twixt his fingers, clacking them together with accordion-like movements, adrenaline uncontrollably fountaining outward from his brain--an inveterate gamblers most base secret. "These are high denomination chips! There must be over a million dollars here!"
"one point five mil," offered Jay.
"I need a stim of caff-coff." Whistling with shock, he poured a stiff bout, pouring sugar and creme into the caramel covered liquid.
As the drink cleared his head, the smile and emotion drained from Mike just as suddenly. "All of this is worthless! The twenty five thousand dollar chips have micro-sensors which trace their every movement."
"Granted," smiled Jay. "We can throw those out."
"We can throw them all out! The other chips, even though they do not carry sensors, have already been reported as stolen. The casino keeps a second set of chips for such a rare event. They've already swapped out these chips for the other set and notified cashier cage personnel not to exchange them. Anyone trying will be flagged and have to prove where they obtained their chips. And who walks out and leaves a casino with large numbers of high denomination chips? That's not something most people forget to do. Someone trying to cash in one might be believed. Saying you forgot to cash in all these? Forget it. All you've managed to accomplish is to steal a whole lot of worthless souvenir pressed plastic."
Jay smiled broader and removed a wrist-watch which he slid across the table. "Recognize that?"
Mike was astounded. Of course, he recognized it. The watch belonged to him for years. He immediately saw the identifying markers, the chip on the side, an unwashable stain over the top part of the glass. As far as he knew, the watch was safely ensconced in a shoebox upstairs behind his coat rack. The watch was contraband--it concealed a time-slipper.
"How did you get this?"
"You gave it to me. After you travelled back in time."
The evidence was irrefutable, but still, Mike Ford had doubts. Robbing a casino was such an unmentionable concept. "Okay, I see the watch. But why would I do all this?"
"You gave it to me so I could time slip and escape from the casino with all the chips in my possession."
"But why would I go back into the past in the first place? I've been averse to it since the one and only time I made the attempt."
"Obviously, you traveled back in time to help me perform the robbery. But also..."
Jay made a grand gesture which encompassed all the chips inside the attache case, "you're going to take this with you. You are going to be the one who cashes in these 'worthless' chips...one week before they were ever stolen!"
For the next few hours the two conspirators discussed the past and future robbery. It was genius! Mike Ford would take these chips which were unredeemable now into the past--at a point when they were still honored by the casino and exchange them for currency. He would notify an equally incredulous "past" Jay Red of how he was involved in the "future" robbery, giving him the details just as Mike had been the recipient this morning. Mike was very suited to changing in the chips because his play was rated high--he normally played with thousand dollar chips--even if he was not independently wealthy, his job paid handsomely--and he was someone who liked to gamble, regardless of, or in spite of, his knowledge of the odds.
Which brought him back to the reality of the heist. Except for holo-vids from New Hollywood like "SKY'S ELEVEN", no one had been successful in such a venture in recent memory. Security was extremely tight, camera's could project 3D holo's of everyone in the casino so you could be identified from all directions(one person who managed to get into the parking lot with stolen loot was apprehended due to a stain on his jacket clearly visible on the holo-vid distributed to law enforcement) and even if you managed to escape the casino, you were still in the middle of outer space! Unless you took your chances visiting Old Atlantic City but that place was a dump--had been since the beginning of the twenty-first century.
And robbery at the point of a Blastgun? The only instance inside a casino he had any recollection of was inside an elevator a century earlier and that one had ended in disaster--the victim murdered and his killer quickly brought to justice even if he did hang himself a few days later in his cell.
But this! If such an action could be considered a gamble, was it such when all the moves, of both himself and the casino were already facts he was aware of? Who could resist committing a theft from a casino when it was already successful? It wasn't a gamble! Crimes had been subject to all levels of pre-planning since the beginning of the human race, most doomed to failure by something unforeseen, but this had elevated to an all new level--post planning an event already occurred!
There were still some metaphysical implications that annoyed Mike. For the umpteenth time, he went over all the actions to be performed by him and he kept getting hung up on the transferral of his Time Slipper. "And then, I give you my time slipper?"
"Yes. And then I return it to you just as I've done," confirmed Jay.
"I'm still wrapping that around my skull. You give it to me, so I can return to the past and give it to you so that you can meet me in the future and give it to me to return to the past and around and around we go in some kind of time loop?"
"I suppose so. Yes, it's in a time loop."
Mike wore a skeptical scowl. "My limited knowledge of Quantum Physics screams at me that's not possible. Something has to initiate the sequence. A time slipper cannot just merry-go-round in a time loop."
"And yet, you hold the evidence in your hand!"
Mike shrugged. It was too much for his brain to wrap around at the moment. What was nagging him even further were the moral implications. Mike Ford did not think of himself as a thief and criminal. Yet, here he was prepping for a crime he'd already committed. And where was his free will in all this? What if he did not want to help in the commissioning of a robbery?
Defiantly, Mike folded his arms together. "I'm not doing it!"
"I'm not someone who would do this. And I'm not doing it. You'll just have to..." he was going to suggest Jay should find someone else but considering the circumstances, that statement felt stupid. So he just shrugged his shoulders unsure what to say.
Jay observed him motionless. This was completely unexpected. Finally, "Mike, you're forgetting about Gale's Law!"
Mike hadn't forgotten. He was purposefully opposing it. Gale's Law postulated that no one could ever change the past because the past was locked and any person who ever traveled back in time had already done so. But Mike was uncomfortable with the notion his decisions were a foregone conclusion and was now obstinate that he would be the first person to discredit a proven law of quantum physics, proven decades earlier by the modern Einstein named Doctor Martin Gale.
It also stated no one could travel to the past with the intent to change the past, blocked from such actions by the past which had already occurred, however in this case, the past did involve him. He would change it by not going back in time. What would Martin Gale have postulated about that?
Jay read Mike's thoughts. "You are a mathematician! You wouldn't accept someone's stubborn belief that you can change the laws of probability, would you? You would laugh if someone claimed they'd created a system for beating roulette, for winning at a rate that opposed the negative outcome of all casino games, right? So, how can you claim to be capable of avoiding Gale's Law?"
"Because I am a human being! I have free will. I will not go back, just for the sheer stubbornness of the human condition."
"Then how do I come into possession of these chips without your help? Without you informing me of everything I do? Without receiving your time slipper?"
Mike shrugged. He didn't know and tried to convince himself he didn't care.
Jay continued trying. "What about the news agencies and the press reports?"
Mike and Jay had listened intently to the Casino Network News and heard the reports about the theft. Mike could not deny the incident had occurred. No one had been seriously injured although two men were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. One of them had suffered a fractured wrist.
"You're the one with the fractured wrist in the hospital."
"Oh, thanks. You didn't mention that tidbit. Anything else you didn't mention?"
"I didn't want to give you cold feet but since you already are having some..."
"And how is knowing I will fracture my wrist supposed to make me more inclined to go through with this?"
A sardonic grin transformed Jay's face. Mike could tell he was gonna twist the knife. "You aren't home yet from the hospital. But when you do get home, which one of you is going to stay in this apartment?"
A wave of nausea rushed over Mike. No one had been able to explain the seemingly psychosomatic symptoms but apparently when someone saw themselves due to time travel, it brought on nausea. Even the thought of confronting himself had sent the sick feelings rushing through his bowels.
"Yeah. Which one of us?" Mike resignedly looked into Jay's cheshire face. "I guess I'm going back!"
It was a strange kind of vacation packing for an unusual trip. Mike had a huge luggage bag he had only utilized once on a three month tour of Democratic China and now he stuffed the attache case full of stolen chips into the bottom(he did not want to be seen with the case at all) on top of which he layered enough clothes for a weeks hotel stay. He would book a room upon arrival and assumed there was a vacancy according to Gale's Law.
Next he set the time and date for him to time slip back to. Time slippers were ornery pieces of equipment. He had purchased this one illicitly many years ago, certain a gambler that had won non-stop at Blackjack had cheated. Upon going back in time, he had a number of uncomfortable incidents, never determined if there was truly a cheat and arrived back in his own time with the certainty he would never use the time slipper again. He couldn't very well throw the machine in the garbage for fear it might be discovered so he had hidden it in a shoebox in his closet ever since. Until now, that is when his friend, Jay Red had surprisingly handed it to him out of time itself.
One had only to set the time and date (zone specific) and upon activation went instantaneously and seemingly without flicker to the destination. Sometimes one didn't even believe a jump in time had been initiated. An automatic set of return coordinates was a default option and would return one five seconds after the initiating point--the delay to prohibit the user from bumping into themselves leaving. Anyone who blinked might not realize the person had left at all assuming the same clothes and hair style was consistent. Of course one could override the default return option and pre-program the time slipper for anytime in the future one desired. Or even further into the past--although one was warned against that--the first time slippers had had complicated operations--they needed the user to calculate number of hours to travel in time from any given originating point and this fear was a hold-over from those days when human error could accidentally cause one to be lost in the time-stream. Of course these new time slippers were a lot safer but old habits and superstitions die hard.
"I should be able to recall the exact time and date I previously traveled to and that you then escaped forward to. There's a memory recall." Mike was correct and had quickly pulled them up on display, then stood in thought. "Where's the best place to use it?" Mike was concerned because time slippers did not affect space. Whatever time he appeared in, it would be the same place he had left. If he had been standing in the kitchen, he would appear in the same spot, just one week earlier.
"Well, you don't want to bump into yourself, so probably not the house," suggested Jay.
Mike thought hard. A thought was nagging him. "I was upstairs in bed most of the week recovering from the flu. I remember the first day, I heard someone slam the front door and lock it. I roamed the house, sick as a dog looking for who had entered but the house was empty. And I was feeling like shit so I just consoled myself it was a fever-born imagination and went back upstairs."
"I know what you're thinking, Mike. That was you time slipping and escaping through the front door and locking it behind you."
"Yeah. I would have locked it out of habit. I just can't leave the door open which is why I'm shocked I did this morning. Well, I can't be one hundred percent sure but Gale's Law, right?"
The two of them moved to the living room. "Well, Jay. Here goes. I'll see you in a week."
Picking up his bags, Mike hit the accept button that initiated the sequence. He was supposed to see a confirmation message asking if the coordinates were indeed correct, which required an additional response from him. Instead, the readout showed the word--"ERROR".
Both compatriots eyed one another with puzzlement. "Gale's Law? I didn't go back in time here in the living room?"
"I didn't think Gale's Law worked like that, though." Mike's vision pierced the ceiling. He remembered his fright at hearing the door close one week earlier. He had risen from bed, grabbed for a night-coat from the closet--that was it!
"The closet," Mike blurted out as he rushed up the stairs, Jay following in tow.
Reaching the room, Mike swung open the closet and snatched out the old shoebox at the back. "I don't know why I didn't think of this before but it has been an overwhelming morning."
Jay watched perplexed as he placed the shoebox on the bed and opened the top, revealing--the one and the same time slipper that he currently held in his palm. The nick on the side and the stain--everything was identical.
"Two time slippers?"
"No, Jay. This time slipper I'm holding in my hand has already travelled through time. The one in the box has yet to do so. I knew an object cannot simply go back and forth in some weird loop--how did it get started? Time is subject to laws of physics, right? This time slipper(Mike lifted it from the shoebox) is going to take me into the past and I will hand it over to you. This other time slipper(Mike replaced the one originally handed to him by Jay into the shoebox) is going back into the closet."
There would be no recall of Jay's trip in this "copy" of the time slipper, so Mike programmed everything in from scratch. He got the message, "ACCEPTED. CONFIRM Y/N" and beamed back at Jay. Now, we're ready.
Returning to the living room, they exchanged goodbye's once more. Mike picked up his bags and punched the activation switch. Looking up he saw Jay had disappeared--or rather Mike had disappeared and was now standing in the same spot one week earlier.
As if in confirmation, a loud, hacking cough echoed through the quiet from the upstairs bedroom.
After a slight tinge of nausea at the proximity to his earlier self, Mike smiled. "Don't worry, old boy. You'll be feeling better in a week and going on a strange adventure." Quietly, Mike let himself out the front door(should he purposefully make loud noise to be overheard? He thought not) gently slamming it shut.
Mike locked it. It was habit.
Once outside, he stared at his Hydrocar sitting in his driveway. His car had not been missing all week, so a cab had to have been utilized. Grabbing out his portable, he dialed for a car to pick him up.
It dropped him off in front of Jay Red's apartment complex. Carrying his luggage up, he knocked on his friend's door. After a moment, Jay opened. "Mike? What's with the bag? Is everything okay? You're not moving in, are you?"
"No, of course not. I'm going to be staying at the casino." Once the door was sealed behind him, Mike opened his bag and with some frustration managed to pull the black attache case from under the clothes. "Why didn't you warn me I would have to dig this out? Thanks, Jay."
"What are you talking about? I haven't seen you in a month."
Mike opened the case, displaying the kaleidoscope of colored chips. "We saw each other just a few minutes ago, Jay. We had a long conversation. You and I are going to rob a casino. And the good news is, we've already done it...kind of!"
The next element was delicate. Mike Ford checked into the casino and made himself very conspicuous--his plan would work better, he felt, if he hid in plain sight. After settling in, he visited the casino bank and arranged for twenty thousand dollars to be withdrawn from his own account. Luckily, he thought, his past self was so sick in bed that he would not check his balance and freak out over the withdrawn funds for the entire week.
Next came a series of steps that would need to be repeated over again through the course of his five day stay. The problem with cashing in large denomination chips at any casino was they kept relatively strict track of their dispersal. You could not simply walk up to a cashier with a thousand dollar chip and ask for an exchange. They will want to know where you got it from. They'll check with the pit boss that recorded your chip purchase and wins. Then, they'll first honor the transaction. In essence, the casino puts an edge on their own currency exchange--they treat the chips like cash, exchanging them freely at the tables without insisting on any record of who receives them(you only get recorded if you hand over your players card at your discretion) and will be happy to inform you how any lost chips are like cash and are gone forever but yet they insist you prove the chips are yours at cash-out time.
Mike Ford was well aware of this. While most players would attempt to be discreet, his plan was exactly the opposite. Walking to a roulette table, Mike placed five thousand dollars on the felt, asked for three Orange thousand dollar chips, two purple five hundred dollar chips and the rest in black one hundred denomination. He welcomingly handed over his players card for a rating and watched as the pit boss entered the amount of his cash-in.
He played for all of five minutes, placing single black chips on red or black randomly, winning two and losing three spins. Making a comment to try his luck elsewhere, he collected his chips and left. He randomly walked around the casino, placing one or two random bets on roulette tables located at the other side of the casino, then went back to the table he made his original purchase from.
By now, the dealer had gone on break and a new one was running the table. Mike sat down, made two more spins which he won, so that he was up about a hundred bucks of his own money, then asked the dealer to cash out. He handed over his stack of chips, the five thousand dollars he had originally purchased plus one orange thousand dollar chip and four purple chips from the stolen loot Jay had delivered to him. The dealer counted it up, informed the pit boss of cash-out for eight thousand dollars which then was recorded into the computer.
He made change of one black chip, tipped the dealer a green quarter chip and walked over to the cashier cage. As expected, they inquired as to the pit he had purchased and/or won the chips from. His record of play was what made the transaction possible and why creating noticeable attention was necessary.
The whole incident had taken about a half-hour but he had managed to convert three thousand dollars of the stolen money into legit cash. This, of course, was only a small trial run. The rest of the week, he would be upping his cash-in stake as well as the number of stolen chips he secreted into the stacks. He would brag to casino personnel about his good luck for the week, and complain to the dealers as he tipped them at cash-out how he kept trying to leave the damn casino but his addiction was so bad, he kept coming back for more. The dealer would scold him, reminding him of how likely it is he would lose his winnings back and Mike would nod his head in sullen agreement. But as the money was cashed in at the cages, he would return maybe ten minutes or less and cash back in, his luck seeming to hold out.
By the end of the week, the dealers and pit bosses were extremely friendly, complimenting him on his wins. He had even managed to have most of his stay at their hotel comped, his outlay for lodgings really only being the first night.
All in all, it was one of the most enjoyable gambling experiences of his life. In actuality, he had lost most of his own twenty thousand dollars on the random bets he had made but the million dollars in clean cash more than made up for that. The money he stuffed into a duffel bag he'd purchased near the end of his trip.
The only thing that preoccupied his mind was the split with Jay. They had agreed on an equitable fifty-fifty split but there were expenses that were bothering Mike now that everything had been actuated. Of course, there was his own investment in cash but the real issue was the cost of "legal" transactions. Because it appeared he was winning close to a million dollars, the casino began to make him sign for the cash-outs. He was going to be on the hook for taxes and his estimate was looking at about four hundred and thirty thousand. He obviously would have to renegotiate with Jay about a fifty-fifty split of the one million. They both needed to share in this tax bill.
He hated the issue to come up so late in the game, but he was nervous about any contact with Jay until after everything was completed. Jay had not mentioned any secondary meetings prior to the day of the robbery and when finally the day had arrived, Mike was naturally nervous, but what was there to worry about? How many times does one know everything dangerous that they are about to confront while being fully aware everything is guaranteed to work out?
Mike checked out of the casino, bags in tow including the duffel bag stuffed with over one million dollars in Kennedy's and Obama's. As he walked through the casino, he caught a glimpse of Jay Red passing by, their eyes locking knowingly for just an instant. Everything was moving according to plan, but then how could it fail? Mike had the money Jay should be first stealing now by holding a blastgun in the face of a scared cashier, demanding that all the chips in his box be handed over quickly. Then, Jay would make a mad dash for the door while Mike waited to intercept the guard, in a seemingly accidental obstruction. Just long enough for Jay to escape to the outside of the casino and activate the time slipper Mike had supplied him with and send him half a day into the future, where Jay would simply walk off and catch a hydrobus quietly back home.
And, of course, the collision with the security guard would be powerful enough to look good, enough to cause a fracture of his wrist. Mike mulled this over--something did not feel totally right but he couldn't put his finger on it.
Glancing down the aisle, he could just make out Jay carrying out the robbery. No one seemed to notice, his warning to keep silent being heeded by the cashier. Mike's concentration on them faltered as he once again contemplated this fracture he was supposed to endure. He had sub-consciously put it out of mind, but now it had popped frighteningly back in and he was nervous for the first time all week. He had never borne a broken or fractured bone in his body, had no idea what pain to expect but he was certain he was not going to like it.
He prayed the medical staff at the casino and the hospital would be quick to administer pain killers. He wasn't a sissy, but he just didn't know what to expect. Then they would rush him to the hospital quickly enough--what was annoying him about that? He fingered his luggage. Yes, that's it, he thought. I know I get taken to the hospital for treatment! Am I really going to lug this duffel bag full of one million in hard cash to the hospital? That didn't seem very safe. What if he was robbed while being treated? Some orderly was bound to discover the contents of the duffel. What he should have done, the smart thing, was deposit the large sum into his account prior to leaving the casino, but when Jay had come to him, the duffel bag was explained as part of the robbery. Had Jay's suggestion poisoned his common sense or was it just another example of Gale's Law?
Suddenly, Mike Ford did not feel so confident. There were things in his near future that did not seem accounted for and he had definitely become used this last week to sleepwalking through his actions, clear on everything that was to happen in advance. That comfort was suddenly snatched from under him like a flying carpet.
A WHOOMPSH knocked him to the ground at which a SNAP sent electric voltage through his entire frame, the pain exploding from his wrist. SONOFABITCH! He had been daydreaming about the stupid robbery and it had caught up to him before he knew it. The damn fool security guard had made a football dive to intersect Jay and all three had collided. Mike hadn't even obstructed the security guard on purpose although Jay must have purposefully run towards him. Mike didn't believe in random chance of that nature happening.
FUCK, his wrist hurt. He looked over at the security guard whose head had smacked into a slot machine. Blood oozed from a gash across his eyes and he looked glazed but he would be fine. Jay was unhurt. He smiled and practically winked at Mike, grasping the black attache case he had insisted the cashier place the chips in(an identical one to what Mike had in his suitcase, now devoid of those same stolen chips) and Jay reached over and grabbed the duffel bag filled with the million in cash as well.
Mike reached out, clutched the bag and then felt his breath intake to the point of suffocation. His wrist was fractured and he could not hold onto it. His other arm was pinned below him. "Don't worry! I'll see you in a few days," whispered Jay just close enough only Mike could hear. "We'll split the cash. Don't want it at the hospital now, do we?"
"You didn't mention anything about taking the money, too?" Mike said through clenched teeth and breath held tight from pain. He wasn't sure anyone including Jay had heard him. He caught a glimpse of his friend, Jay Red, seemingly superhuman in his speed burst through the front glass doors of the casino and a few feet onto the outside cement walkway, he disappeared--into the future.
Mike viewed his house from across the street, seated in a parked taxi with the meter running the very next morning. He had turned away when Jay had entered through his unlocked door, that familiar twinge moving through his stomach at the proximity to his past self. Of course, he knew very well what they were talking about at this very moment. The dissemination of the entire robbery except for a few choice details that Jay had left out...
At the hospital, his injuries had been treated with precision and care. He had submitted to three police interviews but the casino vouched for his week long stay as an excellent casino patron. He reported the theft of the million dollars when Jay had grabbed his duffel bag, that having been caught on surveillance so he looked all the victim. For all intents and purposes it had been the perfect crime.
Yet, Mike did not feel so confident. The taxi's time counter told him the moment was approaching when he should enter his house. He had to wait, of course, until his past self had transported back in time. He did not want to run into his old self nor attempt to influence what had previously occurred. If he had not believed in Gale's Law, he supposed he could run in and surprise them. But more likely, he would get hit by a car crossing the street as Gale's Law was immutable.
So he waited. The time came. Jay had not left the house and there was no back door for him to escape from. Mike paid the cabbie, braced his sore arm, walked nervously towards his home and entered.
The first thing that struck him was quiet. Too quiet. "JAY? IT'S MIKE. I'M BACK FROM THE HOSPITAL! JAY! JAY!"
He fell into a sinking emotional abyss of betrayal. He was prepared to search every room in his house, certain Jay could not have left without avoiding him but all he really needed do was search one place. Walking stiffly up to the bedroom, praying he would not have his suspicions confirmed but without any surety, he understood everything before he had even entered.
His bedroom door lay open, the closet door agape. And on the bed, top slipped off and askance, lay his shoebox, that old rectangular cardboard storage that he knew he had replaced safely into the closet. Walking over to view the contents, he saw clearly there was none.
The box was empty. His time slipper had been stolen!
A glance at the wall clock shocked Mike. He had been sitting on his living room sofa for over five hours, staring ahead, thoughts revolving and sloshing, ascending and drowning, anger welling high while unforgiving stupidity berated his consciousness. He had lost track of time. The evil side of his brain that insisted on seeing all things humorous noted that he had literally lost time.
What had he lost? Half a million dollars in cash that really wasn't his to begin with! One week wasted! Twenty thousand dollars of his own cash! The cost of one evenings hotel fare! A bruised and battered ego. Oh, and one contraband time slipper!
The house remained silent. Mike had initially kept a flicker of hope that Jay would be stupid and time slip forward. Since he clearly had activated the device in the house, all he had to do was wait until Jay showed up. He could not be sure when that would be, but Jay would not want to go too far into the future. He would want to get out of the house and quickly retrieve the cash from wherever he had stashed the duffel bag. But should Mike wait for days on the slim hope Jay might mysteriously materialize?
Jay was probably too smart for that. He would have anticipated Mike keeping vigil for his return. After all, we were talking about a million dollars cash here. If Jay did foresee this, then...with the pain of hindsight, Mike remembered their first meeting.
The doorbell! Jay on the other side! Mike too tired to answer, shooing him away--"come back later"! Jay entering through the unlocked front door! Mike incredulous that he had forgotten to lock it!
Only, he had remembered. It was in his recollection, him checking the door prior to bedtime. It had been Jay who had unlocked the door. Jay had time-slipped back where it would be safe--where Mike was still asleep in the bed upstairs unaware yet of any robbery. Then he quietly exited the house, not locking the door he had no keys too and irony of ironies, by not being able to lock the front door, Jay had escaped without notice while his past self had woken his future self attempting the same style of escape.
And how would Jay know the door was left open by his later self? He must have planned the whole thing in advance! The door remaining unlocked was an educated guess based on what he planned to do and his knowledge of Gale's Law. If the door had been locked, Jay might have assumed his plan to escape into the past with the stolen time slipper hadn't worked.
But, of course, it had been open.
He had been conned! Jay was probably recovering the duffel bag filled with cash right now. Mike inhaled a few deep breaths. Calm, calm! Alright, just get over it.
Not so easy! Not when it was by a friend. Not when he felt a little more insight could have avoided the whole thing, the "Victims Fallacy" of hindsight about a crime. He consoled himself there was nothing within his power further to do. He couldn't contact the authorities. He was just as culpable as Jay.
He was out a half million dollars--not his to be had obviously--he wouldn't miss it. He had lost over twenty thousand dollars of his own earned cash and a week of his life--Just let it go! And one time slipper--yes, just let it go! Forget about! He need never have to think of this incident again, in his entire lifetime.
Oh, wow! One more thing he almost forgot. A four hundred and thirty thousand dollar income tax bill!
The auto-ash swallowed up the cancer-less cigarette being extinguished by the District Attorney. Jonathan Green smiled, certain he had proved his point. Nonetheless, he patiently waited for the D.A. to interject opposing arguments.
Finally, the D.A. nodded. "Alright, your client pleads guilty to aiding and abetting a crime, five years probation, eighty hours community service and no contact with gambling or casino's."
"I don't think you have to worry about the last part. With all the publicity, he's been pretty much red-flagged from all the legal casino's in the galaxy."
"And," continued the district attorney, "he testifies against Jay Red in the upcoming trial."
"That won't be a problem. How do you know Mr. Red's attorney doesn't claim the same defense?"
"Let him try. I got him on illegal possession of a Blastgun, firing a stolen blastgun, illegal modification of a lethal weapon, removal of serial numbers from a lethal weapon, modification with intent to obstruct heat-trace ballistics, and all of those occurred prior to his so-called entrapment from Gale's Law. All in all, he's facing seven to ten."
Nodding, Mike Fords council rose, thanked the D.A. and moved to leave.
"Oh, and one more thing," added the District Attorney as Jonathan stepped away. "He has to do time for the possession of an illegal time slipper. Three months!"
"He'll do three weeks--good behavior. He purchased and owned the time slipper long before this incident. You're not going to slip out of that one."
Acquiescing, Jonathan Green nodded and left. All in all, he had achieved quite a victory without even setting one foot in court.
Mike Ford sipped his caff-coff and munched a cube of cran-bran while reminiscing out the window of the eatery. Jonathan Green observed him across the table. "So, you okay? The three weeks treated you well?"
Mike shrugged. "I wasn't designed for prison."
"Heh, who is? Could have been worse. Much worse--you were facing twenty years."
"And Jay Red? What's his status?"
"Oh, he's been sentenced already. He copped and took the plea. He's getting five to seven."
Mike nodded, remained silent. "You still got your job?" queried his attorney.
"No. The publicity and the time I was gone from the job--it was too much. I'll find another."
"Well, I'm glad you're holding up. Sorry to have to, um, add more to your fiscal hole, but I have no choice in the matter." Jonathan handed over the folded invoice for his legal services.
Mike took it, opened it and went wide-eyed. "Twenty thousand dollars! Yeesh, I was expecting a bill, I knew that, but so much? I mean, you never even stepped in court?"
"Yeah, but I had to exhaust a ton of hours researching Gale's Law, making sure it was a defensible position, talking to and obtaining statements from professionals. It was a lot of time. Besides, look at what my service delivered. Your freedom for twenty years--how much is that worth?"
"Apparently, a thousand a year."
"Well, you already paid a decent sum so you don't owe me twenty. You can pay the balance in installments."
Mike Ford squinched his face. "Between you, the money I lost at the casino, my time slipper, the hotel stay, I figure I lost about fifty thousand dollars on this whole deal."
"The wages of sin," Jonathan noted pointedly. "Least you get off on that enormous tax bill. Most of the money was recovered and returned to the casino and the circumstances of the winnings were publicly disclosed. Could have been worse."
"Yeah. You're right. Just fifty thousand down. I'll survive."
"Anyway, I have to go. I got a meeting. Good luck," Jonathan waved, grabbed his coat and hat, threw a couple of dollars on the table. "Here's breakfast. Least I could do."
Mike viewed Jonathan through the glass plex as he exited the cafe, hopped into his open-roofed Hydrocar and spun off. Then, Mike took out his portable and dialed the toll free number memorised religiously for the past few months.
A nasal voice answered mechanically. "Crime Tips Hotline, how may I help you?"
"Yes. I understand that someone I delivered a tip about has been succesfully convicted. I was enquiring about the collection of the reward."
"Your seven digit account number, please?"
Mike spun it off from memory. He did not need a memory recorder for that one. "Yes," returned the nasal operator after a moment. "The conviction was upheld, you are eligible for collection--I'm showing the victim's offer was for one hundred fifty thousand dollars. Nice sum!"
"The victim has a lot of money to spend on apprehending criminals."
The operator chuckled, "must have." Then she asked one more question which made Mike Ford smile with pleasure.
"Yes, absolutely," he responded. "I prefer to remain anonymous."
Other Short Stories by Aaron Denenberg
- A Fool Proof System For Beating Roulette.
- Another Fool Proof System For Beating Roulette.
- A Newcomb Being's Paradox.
Books by Aaron Denenberg
Written by: Aaron Denenberg